🔗 Google workers complain bosses are ‘inept’ and ‘glassy-eyed’:
The Verge reported that CEO Sundar Pichai defended the layoffs and claimed that workers sometimes reach out to express gratitude for the cuts. “And I just want to clarify that, through these changes, people feel it on the ground and sometimes people write back and say, ‘Thank you for simplifying.’ Sometimes we have a complicated, duplicative structure,” he said, per the Verge.
“We are going through a moment with some uncertainty in it,” he reportedly said later in the meeting. “This is how it is in most companies around the world at all times. At Google, we haven’t had a phase like that.”
Back in the late 2000s and early 2010s when I was still semi-regularly attending tech conferences, I was always struck by the gap between how most of the attendees—software engineers, architects, and SRE/devops-type—viewed their role in the workforce and how most people outside of that industry did.
At a session at Velocity in 2009 or 2010, a presenter, having just described some innovative and exciting new practice, said something to the effect of “And if your company isn’t doing this, go find one that is! Everyone is hiring!” That has stuck with me all of these years because it perfectly encapsulates how tech workers in general have viewed themselves and their relationships to the companies they work for.
These sentiments have always struck me as foolishly short-sighted. “We don’t need worker protections because our industry is different and we have power that other workers don’t” works when things are good, but I don’t care who you are or what kind of work you do; if you’re working for a company, they are 1) always going to have more power than you and 2) always going to be looking to how they can use that to their advantage. Any advantage you have as an individual employee is not going to last.
I do not want to see any workers in any industry having to deal with this kind of stuff and I definitely do want to be a “Actually, this is good!” sort of jerk. However, I wonder if we are looking at a potential shift in labor organization as these waves of layoffs and cutbacks and “optimizations” continue to sweep across the tech industry.